Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Time I Got Hit by a Car

June 18th was a hot day. Temperatures in Salt Lake City had reached 100 degrees, and the heat felt unbearable. I live in an old, red house with lots of character. Such character has its downsides, though -- one of which is that I have no air conditioning. So I drove to Sears right after work on that hot Thursday, and bought a window AC unit. It took longer to buy the thing than I expected, so at 7:05pm, I rushed home to meet my friends Megan and Celisse, who were patiently waiting for me on the front porch. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsal concert started at 7:30, so we had just enough time to make it. We walked together down 1st Avenue and headed for State Street. When we got to the corner, I said, "Well, we could jaywalk, or . . . Maybe we should just take the sidewalk; that'll be safer and legal." So that's what we did; we took the longer, safer way.

Three minutes later, I got hit by a car.

We all saw the Subaru coming, but never expected it to end up on the sidewalk. The driver was on South Temple, turning right onto State. He almost hit another car, but in his attempt to avoid an accident, he over-corrected and began to drive onto the curb. My friends and I slowly began walking toward the buildings, away from the edge of the sidewalk. It didn't seem absolutely necessary to -- it looked like the driver would just slip back onto the road again. To my shock, he accelerated and continued to drive onto the sidewalk. I saw him drive into and rip a small tree out of the ground, drive onto it, and drag it underneath as he kept moving farther onto the sidewalk. At that point, my friends and I moved as fast as we could toward the buildings and away from the street. We didn't have time to estimate the speed or trajectory of the car; we naturally assumed that the farther into the sidewalk we were, the safer we'd be.

Below is a really rough sketch of the crime scene: The orange line is the driver's trajectory, the yellow line is mine, and the red X is about where I got hit.

You can still see the skid marks. (I walk by them on my way to work every day.)

There's still bits of glass on the sidewalk, too. I hate those little bits of glass and wish someone would sweep them up and out of my life.

I can't quite remember where I was hit, but I do remember this: Although the whole thing happened quickly -- too quickly for me to remember a lot of the details -- there was one moment that felt slow. Just before I was hit -- as I was hurrying to move out of the way -- I knew I wasn't fast enough. I knew it was impossible for me to avoid getting hit. I thought, "I'm about to be hit by a car." And in that moment I paused or slowed down, and I think that action helped save my leg. Rather than getting pushed by the car and possibly pinned against the building, I was knocked a couple of feet to the left of the car.

I landed hard on the right side of my body, with my hip taking the brunt of the impact. I felt my left foot scrape against the ground, and it stung. The pain left almost immediately, though, and I sat up and looked around me. Apparently Megan and Celisse screamed out for me, but I didn't hear a thing. I was just concerned for the driver. I looked up at his window, but the airbag had deployed and there was blood in the shape of a handprint on it. The driver tried to start the car and move, but nothing happened. Bits of glass were all over the place. I got up, saw that my foot was bleeding in a couple of places, found my shoes,* and sort of half-walked to an area away from the glass. Megan and Celisse found me, and Celisse, who had also been hit, sat down beside me.

Witnesses were everywhere, asking whether I was okay. I didn't know how to answer. I just felt like crying, but I felt stupid for feeling that way. Someone said the driver reeked of alcohol, and I glanced at him -- he was standing by his car with a blank look on his somewhat bloody face. At one point, I heard him say, "Who do I need to say I'm sorry to?" but I didn't respond. I was so angry at him. I was angry and annoyed that I was missing the concert. I started to cry. "I don't want to be here," I said. "I just want to put my shoes on and leave. I just want to go to my concert!" Someone asked me if I hit my head, and someone else offered me a bandage from the first-aid kit she had in her car. Another woman asked me whether I wanted a bottle of water, and another one said she was a therapist. Everyone kept asking me if I wanted to go to the hospital, and I said, "No. I feel fine. I don't feel any pain anywhere!" I was only concerned with the blood on my foot. The woman with the bandages said, "You're going to feel really sore tomorrow; I think you should go to the hospital."

I was determined not to feel pain. When the police came, I didn't feel pain, and when the paramedics came and I was sitting in the cool, air-conditioned ambulance, I didn't feel pain. I just wanted to go to that concert.

But go to the concert, I did not. By the time Megan got Celisse and me to the hospital,** I couldn't walk without aching all over. It had only been about two or three hours since I got hit, but my body let me know it. My hip ached, my shoulder ached, my back ached, my neck ached, and on and on. I didn't know it was possible to hurt in literally every part of your body.

When I walked up to the emergency room check-in desk, the woman behind the plexiglass said, "What are you here for?" I felt so weird to say it. "I got . . . hit by a car." I still don't really know how to say it without being weird about it.

The doctor examined me, checking for broken bones and internal bleeding. He gave me some ibuprofen and ordered an x-ray. When he said the x-ray showed a fractured pelvis, I panicked a little and started to cry. He said not to worry, though, until he was able to see a CT scan. "Sometimes x-rays can be a little fuzzy." (WHY DO YOU USE X-RAYS!!!) Please don't have a fractured pelvis; please don't have a fractured pelvis. That was my prayer for the next hour and a half.

It turns out that the scan came back negative, which I was beyond happy about. But I was still in a lot of pain. So one of the nurses gave me hydrocodone. I happily took it and felt my aches slowly disappear.

See what happened next in The Time I Vomited in Megan's Car.

**Incidentally, why are emergency room entrances so difficult to find? There should be absolutely no usability issues in getting to an emergency room. C'mon, hospitals! Don't make us think about where to find the emergency room!

Thing I'm thankful for: that little tree. I hope I can have it as a plant in heaven.


Blogger cardlady said...

Oh Sara! You described this accident so well. I could "see" it all happening.. so sorry and hope you heal quickly. Glad for that little savior tree to.

11:39 PM  
Blogger cardlady said...

Oh Sara! You described this accident so well. I could "see" it all happening.. so sorry and hope you heal quickly. Glad for that little savior tree to.

11:39 PM  
Blogger colleensewnsew said...

So glad you are able to write about it and thanks for sharing it with us. It seems particularly unfair when you are minding your own business and someone else's poor decisions impact you.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Scary. Glad you're OK.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am a bit shaken by your story, Sara. It was pretty freaky how that car suddenly swerved into the sidewalk and hit you. I 'm glad that you have at least recovered enough to share your story on your blog. I hope that this would be the last time stuff like this ever happens to you. Take care!

Joanne Krueger @ Kurtz And Blum

4:19 PM  

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